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Nasa’s Moon spacecraft Orion shares astonishing images of the lunar surface

 (Nasa)
(Nasa)

Nasa’s Orion spacecraft has shared astonishing images as it floats through space on its most testing trial yet.

Earlier this month, Nasa successfully sent the spacecraft to the Moon as part of its Artemis programme. That was a major test of both the capsule and the rocket that carried it, before they are used to transport humans.

If the test proves successful, then the capsule will eventually carry humans to the Moon – and potentially further into the solar system, on missions to Mars, Nasa hopes.

But first it must make it around the Moon and back, demonstrating Nasa’s claims that Orion is the “safest spacecraft” it has ever designed.

As it carries out that journey, it has used cameras mounted to its outside to take pictures of space.

Those include astonishing, close-up pictures of the lunar surface that were sent back by Orion as it grazed past.

 (Nasa)
(Nasa)

Those images were taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, using the optical navigation cameras that are mounted on Artemis.

As well as helping snap pictures of the Moon, that camera is also undergoing tests of its own. In future missions, with a crew onboard, the camera will be used to orient the spacecraft – and gathering such images provides engineers with the data needed to judge its performance.

Later, on its ninth day, the Orion spacecraft used cameras mounted onto its solar array to take a picture of the Moon. It will eventually go into a distant orbit around the Moon.

 (Nasa)
(Nasa)

And it took another, looking back towards Earth, where it will return next month.

 (Nasa)
(Nasa)

Nasa is sharing imagery from the mission on its Flickr page. Video from the Orion mission can also be viewed on a live page on a devoted Nasa website.